Understanding the Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit
The Fruit of the Spirit are character attributes that drive our behavior daily and the gifts of the Spirit are powers that make us exceptional in the natural world.
The Holy Ghost dispenses the power of God into any believer that receives the spirit. There is power to change the human nature of a person and the power to change the nature of others. This power comes in fruit and gifts. The Fruit of the Spirit are character attributes that drive our behavior daily and the gifts of the Spirit are powers that make us exceptional in the natural world.
The reference to fruit in the Bible goes all the way back to Genesis as God created the heavens and the earth and the trees that bear fruit, and afterward gave man the privilege of eating the fruit from the trees in the garden of Eden.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29.
So, not only is fruit for the physical well-being of humanity, but also for the spiritual; the inner heart of man. The scriptures refer to fruit as spiritual food for the soul. Galatians 5:22, 23 reads: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Jesus himself referred to fruit in many of His parables as He taught the disciples. He first spoke of fruit when referring to false prophets in St. Matthew 7:15-20. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their Fruit.”
The Fruit Jesus was referring to were their characteristics and behaviors of false prophets. If the prophets did not possess the fruit of the spirit, then they acted from the evil Fruit, which was the lust of the flesh. Again, Galatians 5:19-21 reads: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
If a believer confesses to have the Holy Ghost or being saved, they must show Fruit of the spirit and not lust of the flesh, or evil fruit. Their Fruit are normally revealed in certain circumstances they are faced with in life, such as how they treat other people; how they react to temptation, or when under pressure from the devil.
Jesus gave examples in the parable of the sower in St. Mark 4:2-9. When He was alone, the disciples came to Him and asked Him to reveal the mystery behind the sower. Jesus answered in Mark 4:
14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
Verse 20 reveals that every believer has a measure of faith by which they bring forth fruit. But if no fruit is brought forth, they are hewn down and cast into the fire. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” St. Matthew 7:19.
Many people cannot handle the trials and tribulations, the temptations, or persecutions that come with living life in the gospel or the instruction of the Word. And some of those people fall by the wayside and end up false brethren, false preachers and prophets. It is these men that Christ warns us about. “Wherefore by their Fruit ye shall know them.” St. Matthew 7:20.
If they are not displaying the good fruit of the spirit, and they are bitter, angry, vindictive or any of the other lust of the flesh, you should know them, if in fact the believer is bringing forth good fruit themselves. Unfortunately, the false preachers and brethren they lead, live alongside the true believers, which is why true believers must stay vigilant and disciplined in the Word and the spirit.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Jesus further explains the parable to the disciples down in St. Matthew 13:37-43. The Holy Ghost opens up the mind to understand the parables of the scriptures and helps the believer bring forth fruit to perfect the soul. Believers must always pray for the Fruit of the spirit even if it means suffering for a season.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8. The word and the spirit work together to bring a believer through trials and tribulations and to help them stay grounded in the Word so they will not be uprooted by evil and false doctrine. Study of the Word and prayer makes a strong disciple of Christ.
But if a believer allows the devil to deceive them or worldly persecution harm them, they will live a miserable life in the Lord until they die. Jude prophesied of this when he said: “clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;” verse 12.
However, Paul encouraged believers to avoid these people from Ephesians chapter 5, which reads:
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Finally, Fruit of the spirit are needed and are a phase of the walk in the gospel that every believer should complete until they are perfected in their own spirit. Or at least until they bring forth 30, 60, or a hundred-fold of Fruit. Even a small percentage is better than no fruit at all.
The gifts of the spirit are given to believers after they are born again. There are different gifts of the spirit and some believers are gifted with more than one gift for them to use in their ministry in life. Depending on the strength of the believer’s faith, will determine which gifts they use, if they use any at all. All believers are given the power through the Holy Ghost, but only some people actually use the power.
St. Mark 16:17, 18 reads: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
The signs that follow receiving the Holy Ghost are among the gifts of the spirit. However, the signs are to confirm the believer received the Holy Ghost, afterward, through the power of the spirit they can use the signs as gifts, such as healing others, speaking in tongues, and casting out devils.
Taking up serpents is not a literal reference to handling snakes but an actual power over creatures that are considered deadly. Paul for instance, was bitten by a viper but was not affected, nor died. (Acts 28:3-6). Likewise, any poisonous substance cannot harm a believer who has the spirit, but neither of these privileges are to be abused or used for showcasing. They are simply natural gifts of the spirit.
Aside from the natural gifts, there are gifts of God that are enhanced in some believers that all people have but not to the extent of the believer’s anointing. Such as wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. “…and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” Isiah 11:2.
Some people have an anointing of faith, some have judgment, and some are gifted with the discernment of other spirits. These are spiritual gifts that few people know or talk about in the church, but they are real. And the gifts are enhanced by the Holy Ghost in some believers who contribute much to the kingdom of God but are not recognized by men.
Then there are gifts that believers are individually anointed with that are popular among men, such as casting out devils, healing others, and prophesy. In fact, the last few are over represented (and many times misrepresented) in the church world, while other gifts are underrepresented. Singing is a gift of God, quoting and remembering scriptures, organizing the church band and choir, administering the front office are all gifts of the spirit that are enhanced over the normal ability of the believer.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 reads:
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The Holy Ghost gives these gifts in order for the church to function decently and in order and for believers to worship God correctly and get the fullness of the gospel of salvation. The main purpose is to strengthen and edify the church as a whole. 1 Corinthians 14:12 reads: “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”
Whatever the gift may be, if the believer uses the gift on another, the other must first believe the gift will work, otherwise, it may not. It takes faith to move God and for the gifts to work to perfection. When Jesus went home to His own land, he did not perform miracles because the people who knew Him did not believe in Him. “And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” St. Matthew 13:57, 58. The gifts work bests under faith.
Because the disciples and apostles had strong faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost, they performed many miracles among the people. They cast out devils, healed the sick, and laid hands on people who also received the Holy Ghost. Paul reminded the people that he did not win them over using words only, but by using the power of the Holy Ghost. The power convinces people that God is real. “…my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:” 1 Corinthians 2:4.
When the apostles spoke to the churches in their letters to them, they encouraged them to use the gifts accordingly and in order. If done correctly, a message from God will come to all the church and they can move forward in God’s will. If the church is out of order or does not understand the power and purpose of the spirit, that church will not prosper in God’s will but remain stagnant in growth and spiritual immaturity.
1 Corinthians 12:28, 31 reads: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues…But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
Paul was explaining to the church that there is a certain order in which the gifts should operate in the church if they want to receive a message from God. No one person can have all the gifts and the rest of the members have no gifts; the gifts are distributed accordingly to every man as needed by God to edify the church.
1 Corinthians 13: 26 reads: “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” Neither can everyone speak at once or overshadow another while they are using their gift. The spirit uses each believer in order when it is their turn.
“Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 13: 29-33.
If a church is not practicing the gifts of the spirit in this manner, they are missing out on many messages from God. Some messages could be for a particular member with a blessing, or the message could be for the pastor with revelation of a mission for the church. There is too much confusion and false prophets and doctrine in the church today, which is why it is in the shape it is right now.
“Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 13:39, 40.